GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - It's going to be awhile before drivers in the Green Bay area will be able to use the Leo Frigo Memorial Bridge along Interstate 43 after officials say a dip was found in the roadway.
During a news conference Wednesday, Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb says the investigation into the sagging of a portion of Leo Frigo Bridge is just getting underway. From previous inspections DOT officials say they had no indication the bridge was anything but sound.
“I want to reiterate the bridge is not in any danger of collapse,” said Gottlieb.
Police received the first calls about a problem on the Leo Frigo Bridge around 4:50 a.m. Drivers said a part of the bridge on the east side was sagging.
Officers were quick to assess the problem and promptly shut the bridge down to all traffic around 5:30 a.m. before anyone was hurt.
Authorities say a section of bridge about 400 feet long is affected. The area is around pier 22 on the east side of the bridge, between Webster Ave. and the middle of the bridge.
The bridge itself rests on dozens of concrete reinforced piers. The piers don't just sit on the ground they're part of pilings that are dug deep, deep into the ground to maintain their structure. They're not supposed to move but one did about three feet into the ground.
“Initial observation appears to be some settling,” said Gov. Scott Walker.
Bridge engineers wouldn't give a timetable for correcting the problem. But when pressed officials say the closure of the bridge could last months even up to a year.
FOX 11 asked engineers if the pier would have to be removed to correct the problem. Their first indication was yes it would have to been removed. County officials tell us that’s an indication this process will take some time. In the meantime, the bridge will remain closed indefinitely.
State transportation officials say drivers should plan to avoid the area and use alternate routes.
The detour route takes northbound Interstate 43 drivers to Webster Ave., south to Main St., west to Broadway, north to Mather St., west to Velp Ave., west to Atkinson Dr. and north back to I-43. Southbound drivers can reverse those directions. Police recommend crossing the Fox River at Mason Street because that bridge is designed to handle larger amounts of traffic.
Heavy traffic has been reported in downtown Green Bay Wednesday, as the 40,000 vehicles that normally use the bridge each day have been forced to find alternate routes.
Gov. Scott Walker says the cost of repairing the bridge is unknown, but that the state is committed to fixing it.